HHS calls on DEA to reclassify marijuana as a lower-risk drug

The Department of Health and Human Services has moved to reclassify marijuana as a substance less harmful than cocaine or heroin, according to a letter obtained by Bloomberg News.

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The letter a Health and Human Services Department official wrote to Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Anne Milgram, said marijuana should be reclassified as a Schedule III substance.

The DEA defines a Schedule III substance as a drug “with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” Tylenol with codeine is an example of a Schedule III drug.

Marijuana is currently a Schedule I substance – or a drug with no accepted medical use and that has a “high potential of abuse.” An example of a Schedule I drug would be heroin.

The DEA classifies drugs into one of five schedules, or categories. The classification depends on the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential.

On Wednesday, the HHS said a statement: “Following the data and science, HHS has expeditiously responded to President Biden’s directive to HHS Secretary Becerra and provided its scheduling recommendation for marijuana to the DEA on August 29, 2023.”

In October 2022, Biden requested that HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland conduct a review of how marijuana is currently scheduled under federal law.

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia allow for the medical use of marijuana Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed measures to regulate cannabis for adult non-medical use.

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